Whipsaw – Dan Harden
Livescribe Echo Smart Pen
Livescribe Echo Smart Pen
Echo is a pen computer for handwriting capture and audio recording. The pen has a camera on its tip records a micro dot pattern on Livescribe “DotPaper” while writing, allowing you to go back to a note later and hear the audio recording from the time of writing the note.
Maria Popova: The smartest system I've seen bridging the gap between digital and analog note-taking. Particularly compelling applications for in-the-field reporting, especially in disaster and conflict areas with poor device connectivity.
Livescribe Echo Smart Pen
1. Summarize the problem you set out to solve. What was the challenge posed to you? Did it get you excited and why?
- Utilize Livescribe technology and good design to improve learning. Traditional pen and paper presents serious learning limitations in an increasingly digital world. Paper documents are static, get lost, and suffer an inherent lack of connectivity.
- Discover a way to maximize the freedom of expression afforded by pen and paper while delivering the connectivity, archiving, and “capture” capability of a computer.
- Create a pen computer that incorporated Livescribe’s patented "dot paper" technology.
- Squeeze many necessary features and miniature electronics into a compact and comfortable design (speaker, microphone, camera, display, ink pen, camera, headphone jack, micro USB, and power button).
- Create a beautiful design that would especially appeal to college students.
Whenever you have the chance to improve the learning process with design it is exciting. Its these kinds of meaningful projects that excite us most.
2. What point of view did you bring to the challenge? Was there anything additional that you wanted to achieve with this project or bring to this project that was not part of the original brief?
We felt that the technology was magical. To tap on a note and hear the exact lecture or conversation when you wrote the note was simply amazing. It’s satisfying also to upload your notes and audio to a computer where they can be replayed, saved, searched and sent. We wanted to make sure that the design would never get in the way of this holistic and enjoyable method of learning and communicating.
We were also inspired that Echo is the first product ever to combine all four modes of communication (reading, writing, speaking and listening) in a simple pen and paper format. Echo's design had to be just right so that these modes of communication would not be interupted and would most of all be as effective as possible.
3. When designing this project, whose interests did you consider? (Discuss various stakeholders, audiences, retailing, manufacturing, assembly, distribution, etc., for example.)
There were many stakeholders on this project, including users of all age but especially college students, and of course Livescribe, a Silicon Valley start up success story.
Users benefited because Echo is the first product ever to combine all four modes of communication (reading, writing, speaking and listening) in the simple, low cost, and convenient format of pen and paper. Echo is a high tech computer but it feels low tech in its analog pen form factor.
Echo’s design is tightly linked to its productivity benefits. Echo solves the burden of information overload in its ability to capture information naturally, and makes it accessible and shareable. We didn’t want the design to distract from this experience so we kept it clean and simple.
Echo’s learning and communication benefits are enhanced and enabled by the design. It is easy to hold, with unique ergonomic contouring, has a soft grip surface in front, and has ideal feature locations. It even has a flat spot on its bottom to prevent the pen from rolling.
Echo offers a customized learning experience. Students can speed up, slow down or replay a lecture's audio to more effectively develop both oral and written skills. Students also have limitless access to teacher instruction plus the ability to self–monitor by recording their own voice for fluency exams and oral reports. The speaker, microphone, display and UI design support and enhance these functions.
Echo is a hit. Over one million have been sold since July 2010.
4. Describe the rigor that informed your design. (Research, ethnography, subject matter experts, materials exploration, technology, iteration, testing, etc., as applicable.) If this was a strictly research or strategy project, please provide more detail here.
We interviewed many coollege students to learn about their pain points and needs, and lesson curriculum that may benefit from Livescribe technology.. We also interviewedbusiness people who need to take many notes and keep records of meetings. Livescribe's advanced technology capabilities needed to be understood and translated into a product development plan.
5. What is the social value of your design? (Gladdening, educational, economic, paradigm-shifting, sustainable, labor-mindful, environmental, cultural, etc.) How does it earn its keep in the world?
Any time design can contirbute to the learning process, that is good. Educational advancement can neverp be understated. The social benevolence of Livescribe is self evident, and we took this responsibility seriously.
6. If you could have done one thing differently with the project, what would you have changed?
Everything worked out well.